Category Archives: Tribal Food

Steamed fish in cola casia leaves


Medium sized firm fleshed fish. Carp, sole etc will do.make diagonal incisions on both sides of the fish.Rub salt, bit of crushed garlic, ginger over the fish.

Wrap the fish in colacasia leaves firmly and tie a string so that the package stays in place. Place the same over a steamer for 15 minutes and your done.

Sprinkle fresh lime over the fish before eating.

There will be subtle variations of steamed fish which i will cover as we go along.


Green Papaya Curry

This is a popular dish with the Assamese people of the state of Assam in North East India. This dish uses sodium bi carbonate as a seasoning agent. Dishes of these style are known locally as a “khar”. This particular dish is known as Omita (Papaya) Khar.

500 gms (approx) of green papaya diced
20 gms of fresh ginger julienned
3 cloves of garlic julienned
4-5 green chillies julienned
• Take 2 tbs of mustard oil in a wok. Add the ginger, garlic and sauté for a minute on a medium flame.
• Add the diced green papaya and stir it in. Saute for a minute or two
• Add the green chillies
• Add 1 cup of water. Bring it to a boil. Cover the wok and cook on low flame till the papaya is tender and almost mushy.
• Add more water if required. We are looking for a consistency like a porridge.
• Add 1 tea spoon of sodium bicarbonate and cook it for another minute
• Garnish with coriander and serve.

Pork and bamboo shoots

<strong>Pork with Bamboo Shoots (Naga style)

The Nagas are hardy hillsmen inhabiting the state of Nagaland in the north east of India. While the term “ Naga” is generic indicating people residing in the state, there are actually  more than 15 different tribes each with its own dress, culture, language. Their cooking techniques  are steaming, blancing, boiling and quite a bit of mashed dishes. Note that sautéing, frying, deep frying are not common simply because these require cooking medium of oils, pans et al. The simple basic cooking implements are used to dish out (no pun intended!) organic, simple, yet tasty dishes.

Ingredients (serves 2-3)

750 gms of pork belly; 500 gms of fresh bamboo shoots which have been slit length wise, 50 gms of ginger julienned; 2 tomatoes diced;5-6 chillies

(Note: the original chilly used is called Bhoot Jolokia which is native to the state of Assam and Nagaland. It is the hottest chilly in the world and beats the Mexican Habanero Chillies hollow on the Scolville scale which measure the degree of hotness. the chillie in itself has a great fragrance and adding a little bit to the dish does wonders to it.since it may not be easy to find outside of the state recommend the normal chillies for this dish.If you do get to find one of these dynamites beware, use only 1/2 of it to the dish!)


With a little cooking oil, saute the pork belly till the juices are sealed. A good 2 minutes of sauteing should do the trick. Add the ginger,bamboo shoots and chillies to it and saute for another minute or so.

Add about a cup of water and bring it to a boil. Add the diced tomatoes to the mix. Lower the heat , cover the dish and cook till the meat is cooked. This may take about an hour. Alternatively, you can use a pressure cooker and cook it for aroudn 30 minutes on low flame.

When the dish is done, it should look red in colour because of the tomatoes and the flavour of the bamboo shoot should come though.

Goes great with plain rice.

Black lentils and chicken

North East India is relatively unknown to pretty much most of India, let alone the world. It’s a mystical land of dense jungles, pretty valleys, roaring untamed rivers and great wildlife. The people who inhabit these lands belong to the mongoloid stock although their specific anthropological origins are so vast and different. The different language, colour, food of these lands would be enough to keep a blogger like me engaged for decades!!!. So, i have decided to focus on the food and cooking styles of these lands. They are unique, simple, tasty … and in these days of our techno crazed, cholesterol building, artery clogging food habits will seem …distinct… so go ahead and scroll down

This is a great dish to have an idea of tribal food from north east india. Its basic but yum when done right. Free range chicken works best although spring chicken will also do. Use cuts of leg, chicken ribs, etc . Chicken breasts not preferred as they are too tender and would turn rubbery when cooked for long with the lentils.


500- 750 gms chicken with bone, 200 gms black lentils (kaali daal in hindi), 100 gms ginger julienned, 2-3 chillies, cooking soda( sodium bicarbonate), 2 onions julienned. Soak the lentils overnight in water, use this water to cook the lentils later.


Heat oil in a wok. Saute the onions and the chicken and keep stirring till the chicken gets lightly browned. Make sure the flame is medium.

Put the black lentils in a pan with about 3 cups of water ; add the ginger and chillies.Let it simmer till the lentils are tender. If you are using a pan with a closed lid, it will take around 45 ins;Alternatively you can pressure cook it for 20-25 mins.

After the lentils are cooked add the chicken to the lentils and bring it to a boil; Add about a teaspoon of the cooking soda. The broth will simmer to the top.dont panic!!. Just lower the flame and it will settle down to a simmer. Simmer the dish for 10 mins before serving.

Enjoy with rice.

Today’s dish is a very basic version of the mashed potatoes that is popular in the states of Assam,Nagaland and Manipur. While there are variations the essential dish is the same.I’ll be adding the pics later.


4 large potatoes

1 teaspoon mustard oil

2-3 Red Chillies (optional)

2 tomatoes (optional)

Method:-Boil the potatoes. Peel the skin. Mash the potatoes coarsely. Put in a pinch of salt to taste. Dice the red chillies very thinly and add to the mash. Burn two tomatoes. Remove from heat once the skin is cracked. Peel off the skin. Mash the tomatoes and add to the potato mix. Add coriander for garnish.